This past weekend I was FINALLY able to get in the kitchen and bake something. It had been quite some time since I had enough down time to bake, and frankly, I’ve missed it. Sadly, my life has just been too crazy the last couple of weeks. Even though I was looking forward to baking, I still wanted something simple. That meant cakes and cupcakes were out. But, muffins seemed like an excellent idea and there had been a recipe calling out to me for some time.
The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook is filled with roughly a dozen muffin recipes. I have tackled a few in the past including a the non-muffin Sour Cream Coffee Cake and the extremely tasty Lemon Zest Muffins.
This recipe is officially called “Cinnamon Sugar Muffins.” But, in the header notes, the cookbook author wrote that on Cape Cod, these were referred to as “Dirt Bombs.” And after making them, I can see why. This was especially true for the mini-muffin sized one that I made.
This recipe was pretty easy and straightforward. But, it did include a spice that I hadn’t used before and thus wasn’t in my kitchen cabinets. Cardamom. I heard of cardamom while watching The Great British Baking Show and its come up in a few recipes from time to time. But I never actually used it myself.
When I went to the grocery store, I realized that cardamom is quite an expensive spice. Then I remembered that one of the specialty food stores in my town has a bulk herb section. So I drove over to the Common Bond Market and got about a tablespoon’s worth of the spice for about 50 cents. Much more than I needed, but I figured if I enjoyed working with it, I should have some extra on hand.
One of the first things I noticed about the spice was how potent it was. I threw the small baggie into a larger bag with a few other items I purchased and when I got home, I was treated to the lovely aroma of the spice. It isn’t a bas smell, necessarily, just a strong one.
When it came time to make the batter, it was surprisingly simple. You start by creaming some butter and sugar together, just like many cookie recipes. Then the eggs are added. This is no vanilla in this recipe, which surprised me. I figured it was because the cinnamon and cardamom would really sing throughout the finished product.
Then you add the dry ingredients which include flour, the cardamom, cinnamon, and an entire tablespoon of baking powder! Once mixed together, you can scoop the batter into the muffin tin wells.
This time, instead of just making regular-sized muffins, I wanted to make mini muffins. I didn’t have a mini muffin tin available, but one of the libraries nearby circulates cake pans. So I was able to borrow one and use it. With the leftover batter (and there was a lot!), I managed to make some regular-sized muffins too.
Soon after the muffins (both mini ones and regular-sized ones) came out of the oven, I added the “dirt.” Or in this case, a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Using melted butter as the ‘glue,’ the cinnamon-sugar adhered to the muffin tops and melted slightly due to the heat of the muffin itself. Once they were cooled completely, I finally got the chance to taste them!
I tried the mini-muffin first. Sadly, they came out slightly over-baked, but they were still moist. They reminded me a munchkins from Dunkin’ even though they were technically muffins. The larger ones were baked well and the hardened cinnamon and sugar on top was a nice little flavor boost. Despite this, I found the taste of the muffins to be somewhen underwhelming. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a strong flavor profile inside the muffin. The top was tasty due to the sweet sugar and earthy cinnamon taste, but the rest of it left something to be desired.
I think that with a few tweaks, this recipe really could be something great though.
Here are some pictures.
Can you see why these are nicknamed “dirt bombs?”